What does the long, long, tail of Twitter mean for social TV?

By Natan Edelsburg 

Social-TV“Twitter is giant, and it has an outsize influence on popular and not-so-popular culture, but that influence seems due to the fact that it’s popular among influential people and provides energetic reverberation for their thoughts–and lots and lots of people who sit back and listen.” A new report by Jon Bruner of O’Reilly Radar concludes that though Twitter is a behemoth in both size and influence, many of its users are inactive. 

If they are “active,” their reach is miniscule: the median number of followers of accounts that have tweeted in the past 30 days is a paltry 61. What the report shows is that Twitter, then, serves more as a medium for celebrities and brands to speak to fans, not engage and interact with them. Bruner writes:

“The profile that emerges suggests that Twitter is more a consumption medium than a conversational one–an only-somewhat-democratized successor to broadcast television, in which a handful of people wield enormous influence and everyone else chatters with a few friends on living-room couches.”

Is the comparison of Twitter to the one-way nature of broadcast television accurate? While Twitter is certainly more beneficial to celebrities and brands than it is to fans and consumers – social TV has been steadily reversing the one-way relationship. This has been the case more in 2013 than it was in 2012; it will almost certainly be the case in 2014 more than it was in 2013.

Some recent examples from our archives show how Twitter is continuously shifting from monologue to dialogue:

– At the Lost Remote Show, Vice President of Marketing for NBC Entertainment, Jared Goldsmith presented results about #VoiceSave – which enables fans of the show to directly influence the results – and the show’s week over week Tweet Growth.

– CNN’s Crossfire has prompted and seen success with viewer discussion using Poptip technology. Executive Producer Michelle Jaconi hopes to experiment with the audience picking the topic for the show, which they’ve tested in their social media after show content.

-At the Lost Remote Show, VP of Social Media for Fox, Cait Hood revealed an entirely fan-sourced trailer for J.J. Abrams’s new project, Almost Human.